Countries to consider moving to as a U.S. expat

18 Oct 2022 - Category: Blog /
moving from usa

There are approximately 10 million Americans currently living outside the United States. The number of Americans moving abroad has continued to rise in recent years as more U.S. citizens seek a different sort of life.

So, why are people leaving the U.S. to start life anew somewhere else? Where are they moving to? And where are the best countries to move to as a US expat? If you’re thinking about moving too, these might be some of the pressing questions on your mind. But don’t worry, we’re here to help.

In this blog we’ll be exploring a number of topics to do with the modern US expat experience, including:

  • Why are people leaving the U.S.?
  • Best countries to move to as a US expat
  • How to send money abroad

Why are people leaving the U.S.?

The U.S. State Department estimates 10 million Americans live abroad. This is more than double the number of US expats that existed twenty years ago. Today, people move abroad for all sorts of reasons.

  • For work

Many people move abroad to pursue new work opportunities. Whether they are moving to an overseas office or starting a completely new job, work is one of the most important factors driving Americans out of the country.

22% of American expats work part time. This flexible work-life balance is often easier to obtain abroad than it is in the United States and is a prime reason for people to leave the U.S. and start a new job somewhere else.

In 2021 nearly 33 million Americans quit their jobs. This was quickly dubbed the “Great Resignation”. During a period of chaos instigated by the Covid-19 pandemic, people were quitting their jobs in search of better pay and treatment. Some of these folk quickly realized that better conditions and better pay could be found abroad.

  • To retire

Roughly a quarter of US expats are retirees. Indeed, the average age of expats from the US is around 51 years of age, which is 7 years above the international average for expats.

After many years of working in the U.S. many retirees want to see the rest of the world and enjoy what other countries have to offer during their retirement years.

  • For love

A surprising amount of US expats leave the U.S. to follow their hearts. In a survey conducted by, one in six (17%) said that they moved abroad for love or to live in their partner’s home country.

Indeed, 39% of US expats in romantic relationships met their significant other in their new host country. It seems that love is a great motivator and a significant reason for Americans to move and stay abroad.

  • Low cost living

While the US offers competitive salaries and great job opportunities, the cost of living is often cheaper abroad. Low cost living is another fantastic motivator. In fact, 53% of surveyed US expats considered the low cost of living abroad to be a potential benefit before moving.

Best countries to move to as US expat

  • Mexico

Around 28% of US citizens living abroad live in Mexico. It is the primary choice for Americans looking for a new life in a different country. There are a number of reasons Mexico is such a popular choice.

Mexico has a history of welcoming expats from around the world and particularly those from the U.S. Many people living in states like Texas, California, Arizona and New Mexico will have close ties to Mexico through family, friends and business. Therefore making the transition to live across the border will not be such a big deal.

Equally, many US expats move to Mexico because their dollars go further and life is more relaxed. It is a hotspot for retirees and folk who want more time to spend their money and enjoy a sunny weekend on the beach. The natural beauty and the vibrant culture are also big draws for US expats.

  • UK

Today there are around 200,000 American expats living in the UK. Life in the UK, while quite different in some ways, is quite familiar to many US citizens. The work life and the culture are a bid draw for many US anglophiles who have dreams of life in cities like London, Edinburgh, Manchester and Liverpool.

US expats will be able to enjoy universal healthcare, the thriving and distinct culture of music, drama and art in each major city, and the slower pace of life. The history of US immigration to the UK is well established and while the process might be quite expensive it is reliable and relatively simple to navigate.

  • Spain

If you are looking for a happier and healthier place to live, then Spain may be the place for you. Here you can enjoy a great work-life balance wherever you are based in the country.

Spain is around the size of Texas and it has a population of over 46 million people. With 17 unique regions throughout the country, there are a variety of places to consider before you make the move. If you want to live in a small coastal community along the Mediterranean or a large metropolis like Madrid, you can make that dream a reality.

Today a wide variety of US citizens are living in Spain today as retirees, freelancers, students and small business owners.

  • Portugal

Europe is also a great draw, with around 29% of US expats choosing to make their home in countries like Spain, Sweden, Germany and Ireland.

Portugal is one of the most popular European countries for US expats for a variety of reasons:

  • The cost of living is among the lowest in Europe
  • There is accessible healthcare
  • It was ranked the third safest country in the world
  • You can live in exciting and historic cities like Lisbon, Porto and Braga

One of the key reasons US expats find their way to Portugal is because of the Golden visa scheme - one of the most sought-after citizenships in the world. With a Golden visa you can become a Portuguese citizen after 5 years. Additionally, Portugal has a very attractive retirement scheme that has lured many US expats to their sunny shores in recent years.

  • Colombia

Today, thousands of US expats live in the beautiful country of Colombia. Boasting long white beaches, luscious forests and snow-capped mountains, it is one of the most popular countries in South America for US expats to move to.

There are a number of clear benefits for American expats in Colombia. Their healthcare system is one of the best in the world, ranking above Canada and the US. It is affordable and easy for US expats to rely on this healthcare system that has become increasingly modernized in recent years.

Colombia is also an ideal location for US retirees because acquiring a retirement visa is simple and the slow pace of life is perfect for retirees looking for a relaxing, sunny place to live.

These are just a few of the best countries to move to as a US expat. Some other interesting countries to consider include South Korea, Singapore, Ireland, Canada, South Africa and Sweden.

How to send money home

Whatever country you end up choosing, you may want to send money home to the U.S. for your family or friends. This is where Small World can help.

Small World is an international money transfer service helping millions transfer funds to their loved ones around the world everyday. We offer a number of safe, quick and easy transfer services including bank deposit, mobile wallet, home delivery, cash card reload, cash pickup and mobile top-up.

Your first digital transaction is always free of transfer fees!

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